Issue: Spring 2012

Discovering Hollywood

Each year millions arrive on our doorstep searching for the real Hollywood . Some find what they are seeking, others merely sample and leave feeling that there must be more. We‘re host to the world – visitors arriving from every corner seeking, hoping, wanting to discover Hollywood !

I see them wandering our streets in a daze. They glance down side streets hoping to see the “real” Hollywood that fits their fantasies. I want to shout, “If you‘re looking for a theme park, don’t stop here! Fantasyland we‘re not, but then, what is this place?  Where can you discover the elusive Hollywood ?

Many visitors are surprised by our intense urban environment, it’s important to remember that Hollywood is one of the oldest areas of Los Angeles . Prior to the arrival of the “movies” the ideal climate and vast expanse of land attracted the wealthy from other areas of the U.S. We grew from a sleepy village populated with a landed gentry of daubling in agriculture.  Mostly relative newcomers from the Midwest, these “pioneers” created an idyllic place far from the rough and tumble booming pueblo of Los Angeles

That sleepy village would not last very long when in 1912, Cecil B. DeMille and Jesse Lasky found a climate perfect for a new form of entertainment.  It would not be long before the area was subdivided and a building boom to house the industry continued well into the 1930’s. Today much of that original infrastructure remains.  On Orange just west of the Chinese Theatre in a wonderful example of Mission Revival architecture dating from the early part of the century, is the American Society of Cinematographers. The Bernheimer brothers built their Japanese Palace and Gardens on the top of a nearby hill. Now the Yamashiro Restaurant, it is clearly visible to all who can take their eyes away from the star-studded walk-away. Slightly down the hill is the Rollins Mansion, which has been converted to the Magic Castle , a private club for magicians. And up the Boulevard, near Hudson , is the last Queen Anne Style Victorian, the former Janes House School where the sisters Janes, offered classes to the children of the early film pioneers.

A car pulls up to the valet at the Magic Castle

But these are places, what about the people who gives the town its life? More than anything Hollywood is about them – past and present. Talented actors and musicians still arrive daily, part of Hollywood ’s allure are the dreams of these young hopefuls. South of Hollywood Boulevard at McCadden, the Musicians Institute draws students from all over the world. Chances are that you will spot a young musician with a guitar over a shoulder on his/her way to classes. Also as you wander the streets of Hollywood , if you keep in mind that this town is about those who seek fame as well as those who have reached it, it will be easy to spot an actor clutching a resume and 8x10 glossy heading for yet another audition. Fame is only one meeting away in Hollywood .

Whether you’re into seeing your stars in wax at Madame Tussaud’s or the Hollywood Wax Museum, star-watching at Hollywood’s oldest eatery, Musso and Franks Grill, or learning about the unusual life of writer/humanitarian L. Ron Hubbard, there’s a star everywhere you look in Hollywood .

Moving out from the Boulevard, you’ll discover the “factories” that make Hollywood “Hollywood.”. The giant entertainment conglomerate Universal Studios defines the northwest boundary and Paramount Pictures, the last major studio in central Hollywood inspires and influences much of our daily life.  Looking closely you’ll see production companies, equipment rental firms and prop houses.  There’s Mole-Richardson lighting the movies for over 85 years, on La Brea, Eastman Kodak Company on Santa Monica Blvd. , and countless other establishments that cater to the entertainment industry.

And always, just off the main street lie the charming neighborhoods whether they sit on hillsides or in the flats, they provide visitors the opportunity to see what it might be like to live here.

But above all, this is an industry town – our product, the collaborative art known as entertainment. We are tough town nestled gently against hills marked by a gigantic sign. Wild, wacky but wonderful, it’s our town. Disneyland, it’s not, but what we create here reverberates around the world.

Yes, folks, this is Hollywood , maybe it doesn’t fit your pictures but rather than the stuff that dreams are made of, it is the creativity generated here that more than likely helps shape your dreams. Like you, many came here searching for a dream, some found it, some never will. But what can be found and experienced is a place like no other. You’re invited to tap into the creative spirit and discover the essence of this place. Do as we do here in Hollywood:  keep your sights and hopes high. Your big break may be just around the corner. Ah, Hollywood !